Control isn’t a bad thing

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One of the things I’ve observed over the course of my work and as a parent is the idea of control. I think the word “control” generally has a negative connotation. In using the word to describe something or someone, people then think you are defined by it.

If I’ve noticed anything about people, it’s that the theme of control is prevalent everywhere. We all want it, and it’s not a bad thing.

If you consider why we’re doing it. At our most basic level, we are constantly adjusting with change and context.

Dan Gilbert’s video on the psychology of our future self says it best: we are in a constant state of change. We are designed to perceive those changes as threats. Change is different from the status quo.

I imagine that we have gotten remarkably good at dealing with change throughout our lives. We’ve gone to school, we’ve learned. Each day brings something new. But as we get older it seems to get harder to have those learning and growing moments as our experience piles up.

And this element of control becomes different as new factors enter our lives. I notice this with parenting, which I observe is often a projection of what the parent feels versus what the child is actually experiencing. I notice with my own children -- their desire to take control, especially in reaction to feeling out of control.

It seems to be less about power, and more about exercising some neutrality, balance or centeredness in a given situation when factors are creating adversity. It’s a way of establishing a baseline, of getting back to the norm.

Regardless of what you think, if you’re a “go with the flow” or “type A” I would say there are elements of control in many aspects of our lives. Some are overt, some less so. But we all want it, and not always for power or personal gain. But for survival, existence, and validation. Which is why control isn’t necessarily negative.

The reason I bring this up is because the more I do this work, the more I realize how important what I do is, to give people some element of control in their day-to-day mindset. Not because people aren’t capable, but because we want to be as effective as possible in the workplace. To perform at a level that makes us happy and fulfills us.

While it might be perceived in a negative light, control is one of the greatest sources of strength and centeredness that we have. As long as we keep it within the mindset of getting the best out of ourselves, as opposed to at the expense of others.

Brian AlvoNGC Blog Post